Gov. Brian Sandoval said he made a case against a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain and argued that Nevada has high standards for regulating recreational marijuana in a series of meetings with top Trump Administration officials this week.
Sandoval appeared with President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. for the signing of an executive order on education, although he didn’t have a chance for a one-on-one meeting with the president. He also met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who he said is a personal friend but not a friend on the issue of licensing Yucca Mountain.
“The tone of the conversation is basically they have a job to do and so do I,” he said about his conversation with Perry in a Friday briefing with reporters in Carson City. “So I’m going to do my job better than them.”
He said his friendship with the former Texas governor is helping Nevada’s fight against the repository in the sense that Perry at least knows he’s serious about the issue.
“This isn’t just a NIMBY thing,” Sandoval said, referring to “Not In My Backyard” opposition. “I’m convinced that it is not a site that can geologically isolate the waste.”
Sandoval also said that while he doesn’t want to speak for Sessions on whether the Trump Administration will crack down on marijuana, he does feel comfortable moving forward with a state budget recommendation that includes $70 million in revenue from recreational marijuana and earmarks it for education.
The proposed marijuana tax still needs approval from lawmakers, who are in session for another five weeks.
Sandoval also brought up online gambling, asking the attorney general that “if there is any action that is taken, that it not include Nevada.” He said he reminded Sessions that he is a former chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission, that he negotiated an interstate online poker agreement with Delaware and that he’s not aware of any instances of minors gaining access to online gambling.
Sandoval says that in spite of their policy disagreements, he gives the administration an A+ for working with Nevada and has had more access to the highest-level cabinet officials than he did under the Obama Administration.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. Saturday to add full transcript of press briefing.
Feature photo: Gov. Brian Sandoval, left, and his chief of staff Mike Willden brief reporters April 28, 2017 in Carson City about Sandoval’s meetings with Trump Administration officials. Photo by Luz Gray.